I suppose by now everyone knows about the fake Trump University, which was not a university at all but an unaccredited scheme for ripping off “students.” Everyone has also probably also heard or read the Washington Post revelations that Donald Trump illegally uses donations to his fake charity, the Donald J. Trump foundation, to pay business legal fees. However, you may not know that Donald Trump has also turned his run for president into a profitable business by billing both his campaign and the Secret Service for use of his Boeing 757 airplane.
The Boeing757-200, sometimes dubbed Trump One, is operated by TAG Air, Inc., one of Donald Trump’s shell companies. Its principal place of business is listed as 725 Fifth Avenue, New York City, which is the address of Trump Tower. TAG Air, in turn, leases the plane from another Trump company called DJT Operations I LLC.
Trump’s campaign funds are supplied by political donations, and Mr. Trump has figured out how to use his airplane to route many of those campaign funds into his own pocket. FEC filings show that TAG Air billed the Trump campaign $3.7 million from June 2015 through March 2016. The campaign money in turn came from Trump’s bamboozled campaign contributors.
However, TAG Air not only siphons money from the Trump Campaign. Donald Trump has also figured a way to bilk the federal government. Because it is mandatory that the Secret Service travel with political candidates, Secret Service agents also fly on Trump’s 757, and the government reimburses the Trump campaign for the cost that TAG Air charges to fly them. In other words, we American taxpayers are not only paying for Donald Trump’s Secret Service protection, part of the money we are paying ends up in Donald Trump’s bank accounts.
According to a study of FEC records conducted by Politico, through the end of August, Trump’s campaign had spent at least $8.2 million dollars at Donald Trump’s own businesses. Trump’s businesses are making much more than that from the campaign and American taxpayers, however. The government pays many Secret Service expenses directly, when they stay at a Trump-owned hotel, for example. These government payments to Trump’s businesses do not appear on FEC filings.
As Donald Trump himself once said, “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.” Yes, running for president, win or lose, is proving to be very profitable for Donald Trump, and the money he is making comes out of the pockets of his duped political donors and of us unsuspecting American taxpayers.
As to TAG Air, one assumes that it is paying taxes on those millions of dollars in profits, but if it is, no one has yet figured out where those taxes are being paid. FEC filings show the Trump campaign payments going to TAG Air, Inc. in West Palm Beach, Florida. However, the Florida Secretary of State’s Office has no registration of a company named TAG Air. TAG Air does have a business license in Washington State but no tax reporting account.
Are any of Donald Trump’s campaign shenanigans going to cause him legal problems? Some of them undoubtedly will. He already faces multiple civil fraud charges, and more fraud investigations are in progress. There is little doubt that he will end up paying some hefty financial penalties. Possibly, after all of the fines and penalties are paid, Donald Trump will not have made money from his presidential run after all. Also, it is still an open question of any of Donald Trump’s fraudulent schemes will result in criminal charges serious enough to put him in jail.